Leica resolution

There is one of our older posts thats been getting quite a few hits over the past few days, due to various references from forums.

It came in for some criticism - 

"I don't for a second think the GH2 competes with the M9 (or even the M8) in terms of sharpness, dynamic range or noise performance (at lower ISOs). It's not close in my book.
And I don't know who SoundImagePlus is, but DxOs tests showed that the GH1 actually performs a teeny-tiny bit better than the GH2 in both dynamic range and noise. Having compared the cameras myself, I don't think the GH2 is better than the GH1 other than in overall resolution (because it's 16mp vs. 12mp)."
Interesting comment. It seems that whoever posted this hadn't read the piece anyway. 
I didn't mention anything in my article about dynamic range or noise performance. There was also no mention of DxO tests. I'm no fan of these but if you are interested the comparison between the two cameras is here.
I've always been both suspicious and mystified by DxO tests. One of their conclusions is that a Nikon D3X has better high ISO noise performance than a Canon 5DMkII. Having used both cameras, and owned them at the same time, this was certainly not true for my two cameras. The Canon was far superior to the Nikon in this respect.
One of the other things that they don't measure is how sharp the results are. I do realise that lens performance comes into play here but certainly as far as I'm concerned thats a vital factor in what camera I use.
The other thing to realise is that what I was saying in the post, isn't that controversial or contentious. 
Panasonic GH2 Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 Nokton Leica M9 Zeiss 50mm f/2 planar
I compared my GH2 fitted with what I believe to be the sharpest m4/3 lens available, the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 Nokton, with my M9 fitted with a Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planar. The test was run at ISO 160 at wide apertures with both cameras on a tripod. The subject matter was also quite close to the cameras. 
Back in 2009 from the Amateur Photographer, the UK photographic magazine, website - 
"In this weeks AP Angela tested images produced with cameras that have full frame, APS-C or Micro Four Thirds sensors. Nikon D3, D300 and Lumix G1 were the cameras used as they all have 12mp and each has different sensor size.
Despite having the smallest sensor the G1 outperformed by resolving more detail than both of the other cameras in test conditions."
So even the humble G1 was capable of producing results that outperformed cameras that would be assumed to to be superior. 
However, all this being said, I would like to clarify a few things, since people are quoting the results. Firstly the Voigtlander 25mm I used for the test is not your typical m4/3 lens. The results I achieved were from this lens only.  Against other m4/3 lenses the M9 clearly produced sharper results. Also the test was carried out at wider apertures, which is typically where m4/3 really shines. Stopping down to f8 or f11 the M9 + Zeiss lens again produced sharper results. 
Also using m4/3 I can't achieve the following.
I took this picture back in the summer. Taken with the M9 and a Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 Biogon.
lyme regis
Yesterday I took the raw file and interpolated it in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop to the equivalent of 25MP, or the resolution of a Nikon D3X or Sony A900, currently the largest sensors available in DSLR's. I then took two 1024 pixel longest edge crops from a 100% view and produced the following.
leica m9 blow up
leica m9 blow up2
These look pretty impressive to me. This level of resolution and clarity produced by the M9 is something I've haven't been able to do with any other camera.
Going through exactly the same procedure with a GH2 and the Voigtlander 25mm at its optimum aperture of f/8 and with subject matter that should be easier to resolve well, the same kind of results aren't achieved.
gh2 blow up 2
gh2 blow up 1
Though the GH2 blow ups are OK, to my eyes there isn't the same sharpness, clarity and separation that the Leica images have. I sold my D3X for the M9 because of the ability of the Leica to produce large high-resolution files that were the equal of what the Nikon produced. Even with the interpolation required to bring the M9 files up to the size of the D3X, they are in most cases sharper and clearer at a 100% viewing. This is down partly to the lack of an AA filter, and partly down to the sheer quality of the M9 sensor and the lenses I use with it. 
The earlier test that I did proved to me that the GH2 can produce excellent results compared to the M9 under certain circumstances, and I was surprised as to how well it did. However to get Leica quality, unfortunately you have to buy a Leica! That a camera like a GH2 can perform so well with its advantages of size, features and above all cost, is a bonus for what is a relatively inexpensive camera. However its not the whole story.